The news website GhanaWeb reports on a quick survey recently carried out by a team of two Ghanaian researchers has revealed that most Ghanaians, Nigerians and possibly all Christian Africans, “go to church primarily for immediate economic prosperity and the attainment of other earthly desires, and not future heavenly reward or eternal salvation, as society is made to believe.”
Conducted between in May and June of 2013, in Ghana and the U.K., by investigative journalist, educator, author and researcher Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah, and researcher, author and former lecturer Kennedy Opoku-Yeboah, the survey was trying to find out why modern-day Africans attended church. It was driven by a tragic incident at the Synagogue Church of All Nations branch in Accra on Sunday, May 19, 2013, when four people were trampled to death in a stampede.
According to the news website SpyGhana, the frightening incident has rekindled an old controversy about the legitimacy of Temitope Balogun Joshua, the founder and leader of SCOAN, a famous miracle worker who is revered globally.
“Critics have questioned why a Seer of his calibre got caught totally flat-footed about the stampede,” notes an SG editorial. “It was obvious that he did not anticipate that his suggestions—during a Church service at SCOAN’s headquarters in Lagos—that he might consider distributing his highly sought after anointing water free-of-charge, would send thousands of his followers scrambling.”
Hence the survey, which set out to discover why would a bunch of religious folks get themselves killed over a chance for Joshua’s blessings.
A total of 520 African Christians, ages 18 to 79, took part in the survey. 320 of the interviewees were female and only 200 were male, because of the reluctance of the men to participate.
“Respondents were encouraged to mention at least three key reasons why they go to church. They were constantly reminded to differentiate between what they do in church and why they, as individuals, go to church. But aware that a direct question like this may not motivate honest and credible responses, the researchers followed it up with several other simple and indirect but significant questions.”
“Shockingly,” fewer than 10% of the participants mentioned salvation (the desire to go to heaven) or the determination to avoid hell as a reason for going to church.
In response to the question what their three key wishes would be if God were to guarantee them instant fulfillment, economic prosperity or wealth (including decent employment) was the dominant wish (about 97%), followed by a long life (63%), then marriage (42%), wisdom (34%), and deliverance and protection from including witchcraft (27%).
“Most shockingly,” only 5 respondents named entrance into Paradise as one of their wishes, consistent with the fact that fewer than 10% mentioned eternal life as a reason for going to church.
“Could this be a hint that ‘Christians’ themselves are not fully convinced of the existence of heaven and hell?” ask the website, concluding:
“Despite the small sample size (which the researchers admit is a marked limitation), what this quick survey suggests is that African Christian churches, particularly those that focus on the ‘prosperity gospel’ are highly likely to lose a considerable number of their congregation, and clerics run the ‘risk’ of preaching and ministering in almost empty buildings should the economic situations in African countries significantly improve and church members succeed in attaining the fleeting earthly prosperity and successes that they ‘secretly’ desire. If this is the future of Christianity in Africa, then African Christians are the perfect epitome of hypocrisy and deception.”